Missouri Tigers forward Laurence Bowers. (Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports)
(KSDK Sports) -- The 17th-ranked Missouri Tigers seek a quick turnaround, as they welcome the Georgia Bulldogs to Mizzou Arena for a SEC showdown on Wednesday evening.
Frank Haith's Tigers played their first game without star forward Laurence Bowers this past weekend and ended up on the wrong end of a 64-49 decision against Ole Miss. The 49 points were by far the lowest on the season for Missouri, which fell to 1-1 in SEC play as a result.
Mizzou is undefeated at home this year and handled Alabama 84-68 in its most recent contest at Mizzou Arena, but the Tigers will again be without the services of Laurence Bowers who is nursing a sprained medial collateral ligament (or MCL). Before the injury Bowers led the Tigers in scoring with 17 points per game and was also second in rebounding. MCL in his right knee and will be re-evaluated later this week.
VIDEO: Coach Haith on the return of Bowers
Bowers' interior presence was missed in the loss to Ole Miss last weekend as team managed to shoot just 36.8 percent from the floor overall. Hopefully the strong play they've received from their bench the past three weeks will continue.
Among those helping the starters is Tony Criswell. Criswell returned to the court in Oxford after missing two games with a broken finger in his left hand (non-shooting). On the season Criswell has had two double-figure scoring effots off the bench. Criswell (before his injury) was on an impressive five-game run off the pine averaging 8.0 points on 61 percent shooting (19-of-31) in 19.2 minutes a game.
Video: Coach Haith on Tony Criswell
The team's three-guard set was responsible for most of the scoring, as Jabari Brown finished with 13 points, followed by Keion Bell and Phil Pressey with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The offensive numbers have been much more encouraging on the season at 76.9 ppg and .451 shooting overall. The team has also enjoyed a +10.9 rebounding edge, although was outrebounded by the Rebels last time out (37-36).
The loss of Bowers (knee) cannot be minimized, as 6-foot-8 senior is averaging a team- best 16.8 ppg on a healthy .581 shooting, while ranking second on the team in rebounding at 6.9 rpg. Brown (13.7 ppg) and Pressey (13.4 ppg) add perimeter balance, while Pressey also serves as the team's primary distributor at 7.4 apg (tops in the SEC and sixth nationally). More pressure will be placed on 6- foot-9 senior Alex Oriakhi (10.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg) with Bowers sidelined.
Video: Coach Haith on Alex Oriakhi's on court passion
The Tigers may have dodged a bullet in this one, as Georgia lacks the personnel needed to take advantage of Bowers' absence. Missouri will likely get back on track with what should be a double-digit win in this one.
Mark Fox's Bulldogs have struggled all season long at a meager 6-9 overall. All six victories have come at home for Georgia, which is an ugly 0-5 outside of Athens thus far. The team has dropped both of its SEC matchups this season, including last weekend's 72-61 setback to Mississippi State at home.
This is just the fourth all-time meeting between these new conference foes. Missouri has won all three prior matchups, including a lopsided 89-61 decision in the last contest in 2010.
The Bulldogs have certainly had their problems at the offensive end of the floor this season, ranking 317th nationally in scoring at an anemic 59.5 ppg. Despite solid defensive play, Georgia is still saddled with a -2.5 scoring margin. The team only really has one bona fide scorer in Kentavious Caldwell- Pope, who ranks among the SEC's best at 16.9 ppg (fifth). Djurisic Nemanja is a distant second in the scoring column at 8.1 ppg.
Georgia kept things close with Mississippi State in its SEC home-opener over the weekend, but a 12-1 run by MSU late did in the hometown Bulldogs. Caldwell-Pope was right on his season averaging, scoring a team-high 16 points in the loss. Charles Mann added 14 points in the setback, powered by a 10of-13 showing from the free-throw line. Georgia once again struggled in terms of scoring, shooting just 32.8 percent from the floor overall, including a 21.1 percent effort from behind the arc (4-of-19).